Judge Orders FAA To Pay Air Trek Legal Expenses

 - September 3, 2009, 1:41 PM

On August 20, the FAA reinstated the air carrier operating certificate of Air Trek of Punta Gorda, Fla., after the charter operator fought for more than a year the FAA’s suspension and then emergency revocation of its Part 135 certificate. On August 27, NTSB law judge William Pope ordered the FAA to pay Air Trek $120,169.35 for legal expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The judge noted, “The [FAA] Administrator failed to achieve his ultimate goal in the prosecution of the underlying action. It is obvious that the Administrator should not have proceeded to a hearing on allegations of wrongdoing that he was not adequately prepared to prove.” Air Trek lost about $8 million in revenue, according to co-owner and director of operations Dana Carr, who added that Air Trek spent $461,764 on legal fees and costs to maintain the fleet while it was grounded. “Now that we are back in full operation and the law judge has [ordered] the FAA to pay a fraction of our attorneys’ fees and expenses,” Carr said, “we feel somewhat vindicated from this horrible nightmare.” The FAA told AIN that it does have the right to appeal judge Pope's ruling and that “we are evaluating the decision.”